Male High School Student Banned From Participating in Girls Dance Team Competition

A boy's silhouette with a red slash through it. Beneath the image are the words "no boys."

Image: Shutterstock

Superior High School in Superior, Wisconsin, has no problem with a boy on their varsity dance team. Kaiden Johnson, a sophomore, loves to dance and does it very well. But when it came time for his team to compete at the Minnesota State High School League competition, he wasn’t allowed. He was there, in costume, and prepared with his female teammates, when judges told him he could not participate.

The League deems it “Girls Dance Team” on their website. An official of the League said last year (before this incident) that it would be impossible to change the rule because girls-only teams are intended to balance high school sports boys teams, as required by federal law Title IX, which addresses discrimination in educational institutions. But Title IX doesn’t have a separate-but-equal clause, according to the complaint filed on Johnson’s behalf. It specifies that no school or part of a school (such as a team) which receives federal funding can discriminate based on sex.

Johnson and his family enlisted help from the nonprofit Pacific Legal Foundation to intervene with the U.S. Department of Education and the League on his behalf.

“The Minnesota league cannot continue to discriminate by banning boys from competitive dancing. Title IX’s requirement for equal opportunity for all students, regardless of sex, is crystal clear. Schools cannot tell either boys or girls, ‘you’re the wrong sex, therefore, no dancing for you,’” said Joshua Thompson, senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation, in a news release.

“I believe everybody should have the right to do what they want and what they love,” the same release quoted Johnson as saying. “I don’t believe it should be based on whether you’re a boy or a girl.” There is no opportunity for boys to compete in intramural dance in either Minnesota or Wisconsin.